“Silent Horrors Unfolding: Christians in Manipur Confront Militia Attacks and Struggle for Survival”


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) Disturbing accounts of assaults on individuals, the plundering of state government police stations to seize weapons, and intentional acts of arson targeting residences, churches, theological colleges, and Christian educational institutions persistently come to light.

These fatal attacks, which began on May 3, 2023, have resulted in the loss of over 250 innocent lives, rape and brutalization of women and children, and the displacement of thousands.

The situation continues to escalate, with government inaction exacerbating the crisis.

A horrifying video that emerged on July 19, 2023, sent shockwaves through India and the world, exposing the brutal realities of religious and ethnic tensions in the state of Manipur.

The distressing footage depicts the gruesome assault on two Christian women from Manipur, who became victims of a frenzied mob’s violence. But this event occurred on 4th May and was one of many attacks on the Christian Kuki tribe by the majority Hindu Meitei community.

The series of attacks, initiated on May 4th, 2023, predominantly orchestrated by members of the Meitei Hindu community, have been marked by a deliberate and systematic approach aimed at eradicating Christianity from the region. According to Dr. Vuchula Satyanandam, these incidents have revealed a disturbing pattern where children and married women have fallen victim to brutal acts of violence, tragically leading to fatalities and the deliberate destruction of crucial evidence.

The attackers’ motives range from acquiring  the”Hill Area Land” where the Kuki live for industrial and business purposes, to forcibly acquiring “Hill Area Reserved Forest Lands” through amendments to state and central government laws under the guise of removing poppy trade. Mr Satyanandam, has intimated that these violent acts have been executed under court orders obtained with the implicit support of Manipur State Government and the indirect involvement by the Central Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  BACA officer Satyanandam Vuchula, explained the current status, he said:

Two days ago, on August 17th, 2023, three Kuki men lost their lives in a gunfight involving Meitei individuals, with crossfire also involving Kuki individuals.

“The Meitei community possesses sophisticated automatic firearms, totaling over 4000 looted guns. Surprisingly, the police department and Assam Rifles have yet to recover these firearms, apart from a few outdated and non-functional ones.

“This situation perpetuates the cycle of violent killings.

“No access has been granted to border areas, and outsiders are barred from witnessing the aftermath of burnt churches, houses, and the most severely affected victims.

A limited number of Refugee Relief Centers can be reached through alternate border states.”

The properties and churches of the Kuki people faced arson both prior to and following their relocation into refugee camps in the Imphal capital city and Kuki hill areas. Regrettably, the onslaught of attacks has persisted without respite.

The situation has further escalated with retaliatory attacks, as tensions rise between the Meitei and Kuki communities. Kuki Christians, who have suffered grave losses, are now protecting their communities using old colonial-time guns while the Meitei have stolen over 4000 guns, many of them semi automatic weapons from police armories (click here). This has led to a cycle of violence that leaves both communities reeling. Despite the gravity of the situation, both the Indian Central Government and Manipur state Government have yet to take decisive action to curb the violence, allowing the destruction of houses, churches, and the loss of innocent lives. The conflict has resulted in the loss of numerous lives on both sides, but it’s important to note that a larger number of Kuki lives have been tragically lost compared to the Meitei community.

Mr Satyanandam, said:

“The number of Kuki Christians who have tragically lost their lives at the hands of Meitei individuals exceeds 250.

“In a retaliatory manner, approximately 100 Meitei individuals have lost their lives, often while the Kuki are attempting to protect their families, children, and properties.

“It’s important to note that not all members of the Kuki community are Christians.

“A devastating toll has been taken on religious institutions, with over 200 churches and 35 Christian establishments being set ablaze. Furthermore, an estimated 2000 houses have been destroyed in the wake of the conflict.

“Shockingly, Kuki children, youth, and married women have fallen victim to unspeakable acts, including rape and brutal killings, perpetrated by Meitei individuals who have been incited by hardline Hindu factions.

“The scale of the crisis has resulted in the internal displacement of a staggering number, with approximately 60,000 Kuki and other Christian individuals being forced to flee their homes.”

The situation remains fluid, with communication and access to affected areas still severely restricted. An atmosphere of fear and uncertainty grips both the Meitei and Kuki communities, making it challenging for assessments to be conducted and for assistance to reach those in need. As of the current date, August 19, there has been no comprehensive assessment by either government authorities or private agencies due to ongoing tensions.

In the midst of this crisis, relief efforts are desperately needed. British Asian Christian Association (BACA), a charity founded to assist and aid  South Asian Christians suffering persecution,  has already taken steps to provide emergency food supplies and basic necessities to two Christian relief centres. However, the needs are immense, ranging from medical aid to housing, church reconstruction, and clothing. The affected Christian refugees of Manipur are in dire need of international support to alleviate their suffering. Numerous Christians belonging to the Kuki tribe have been displaced, amounting to tens of thousands of individuals. The road to their eventual return is likely to be lengthy and challenging.

Any relief teams or individuals attempting to visit are vulnerable to looting by Meitei terror groups, comprising both women and men. Instances of kidnapping followed by later releases have also been reported. Therefore, BACA is collaborating with local Christian organizations that are overseeing the management of relief centres.

In the upcoming weeks, our objective is to extend more direct assistance to those in need. We have already contributed approximately £3000, offering essential supplies such as food, footwear, clothing, and toiletries to numerous individuals in dire circumstances. Your support can play a pivotal role in enabling us to assist a greater number of affected individuals. To contribute and help us make a difference, you can make a donation by clicking (here).

Presently, our collaborative efforts are aligned with Pastor V Houpi of the Evangelical Baptist Church in the Churachandpur district, as well as the Kuki Christian Church Nursing College girls’ refugee camp. However, it’s important to note that the demand for assistance surpasses what we have been able to provide thus far.

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:

“Christians in Manipur are confronting militia attacks and resorting to self-defense with rifles, as security forces falter in their duty to safeguard them.

“The scale of internally displaced Christians paints this situation akin to a genocide in its impact.

“Surprisingly, the international community remains passive, while Hindu extremism plays a role in eradicating these blameless Christian individuals.

“Accounts of torture, murder, rape, and other gravest crimes continue to escalate, exacerbating an already distressing death toll and swelling the ranks of dependents within relief camps.

“Shockingly, there is a lack of counseling available to numerous rape victims, further compounding their anguish.

“We stand in solidarity with the affected communities in Manipur and urgently call upon the Indian Central Government, Manipur state Government, and international bodies to intervene swiftly to restore peace and provide essential relief to so many beleaguered people.”

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